The History of a Rodeo Marti and Sara

What is a rodeo?

A rodeo is an exhibition or contest in which cowboys show off their skill at riding broncos, roping calves, wrestling steers, etc.

In History, it was not a sporting event but integral part of cattle ranching in areas of Spanish influence. The typical rodeo lasted two-three days for the seperating and regrouping of cattle and horses and took place at the residence of William Workman at La Puente rancho.

Who participates in a Rodeo?


Where did rodeos take place?

Originally, they took place in areas of Spanish influence such as Sante Fe, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Arizona.

When was the first rodeo?

The first rodeo is hard to trace, but many places make a claim to it including Sante Fe, New Mexico in 1847, Deer Trail, Colorado in 1869, and Pecos, Texas in 1883. Most rodeos were free to the public.

Prescott, Arizona held their first rodeo on July 4, 1888 . Much of what we know today in the sport of rodeo grew from the Prescott Rodeo.

Why did rodeos happen?

The skills of the early Spanish were eventually passed along to the American Cowboy after the Civil War when the frontier territories were heavily expanding. In the late 1800’s, Wild West Shows began traveling the eastern states and did so for about 50 years.

Today’s rodeos are an offspring of these early shows that featured great cowboys such as Buffalo Bill Cody and Bill Pickett, who invented bulldogging.


If you want to hear a good rodeo story you have to get up early or stay late, away from the noise and excitement. That's where you'll find people like Brian Dunn and Vernon Barnes trading on their experiences in the arena. Dunn says, "I love hearing the old stories and how things were and how things are, and comparing them."Brian's grandpa taught him everything he knew about the rodeo game. He's been a bull fighter and barrel man for 30 years."I hung in my granddad's back pocket," says Dunn, "I wanted to be a cowboy." Vernon started riding bulls and broncs in the early '50's"When I was growing up, if you made $50 in the bull riding well that was pretty good," he recalls. It's early in the morning. The stock hasn't made a peep yet. The chutes are empty which gives these two cowboys a chance to compare medical files and respective generations. Brian's bum knee has him thinking about how much longer he can fight bulls. Vernon says he knew when to hang up the spurs and one rodeo in 1968. "I bucked off on three bulls in a row, and I thought, 'well, you know it's time to quit anytime a guy does that.' I haven't been on once since." Most cowboys would agree that the rodeo stock is better now than it's ever been. The cowboys who want to can practice more often. But the question of who was tougher will always be at issue in those quiet places where rodeo memories are kept.


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